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Karachi attacks: Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility

The Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for a weekend attack on a naval base in Karachi.

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Flames and smoke rise from a Pakistani naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi early on May 23, 2011. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images)

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a weekend attack on a naval base in Karachi believed to be conducted in revenge for the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Militants stormed the naval base late Sunday, triggering a fight with Pakistani commandos that continued into Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Fifteen militants armed with AK-47 automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launches and hand grenades charged the Mehran Naval Station in Karachi. About 100 Pakistani commandos then surrounded the militants, and the two sides exchanged gunfire, it states.

There are unconfirmed reports by a journalist based in Karachi on Twitter that gunfire continues to erupt Monday morning.

The hashtag #karachiattacks is being used to follow the events.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik condemned the assault.

"The Taliban and Al Qaeda have announced that they will attack Pakistani installations and of course the armed forces. They have done that. Pakistan is suffering, Pakistan is a victim, but we have the courage and resolve to fight," he said, according to reports by journalists in Karachi.

BBC reports that the attack has left at least 11 Pakistani soldiers dead, and the gunmen are now holding hostages. However, AFP puts the number of dead soldiers at five.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ihsan Ullah told CNN the attacks were to avenge the killing of innocent civilians. It said Pakistani security forces are killing under the direction of the United States.

‘‘Fifteen of our fighters entered the naval air base and we don’t expect them to return,’’ the spokesman told AFP.

‘‘They are there to kill. Our issue with Pakistan is its secular policies and friendship with America.’’

Extremist groups including the Taliban vowed revenge after a U.S. raid in Pakistan killed bin Laden on May 2.

The ability of the militants to storm a Pakistani military installation is likely to be seen as an embarrassment for Pakistan's military leaders, who already face criticism after the U.S. raid on bin Laden, the Los Angeles Times states.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/110523/karachi-attacks-pakistani-taliban